The difference between an amateur and a professional is that one is aware they are on a stage, performing for an audience—and the other isn’t. The pro is the latter one. Why? Because they lose the self consciousness that roots them to the spot and makes them consider all of their arm movements. A pro inhabits the song to the extent that it seems to the audience they aren’t there; that you are watching someone getting lost in a song with the sneaky sensation you are a mere fly on the wall sneaking a secret peek. Case in point: I don’t have to even give you one because in your heart of hearts, you know what I say is true. Part of your brain right now at this minute is replaying such a performance while your eyes read this.
It is this specific thing that the American Idol judges are referring to every damn week when they provide constructive criticism to Stefano and Pia, who can sing, sure, but they cannot yet perform. And no, Stefano’s demonstrative angsty waggling is not what I’m talking about here. Those are moves designed for the the-at-er. Stefano needs to take a look at Tony Bennett and learn something about killing it softly from the master.
I’m wondering how long the judges can keep telling Pia the same thing every week and having her ignore it. When Jennifer said she’s looking for her to stamp her foot, THAT’S what I’ma mean, y’all. Pia looks and feels like she’s been screwed to the spot by magic pageant sparkles driven through her feet and in the real cutthroat world of music that don’t cut it. She needs to lose it like Mary J. Blige. Someone tell this girl about YouTube, yeah?
James on the other hand needs to check out this dude named Sinatra and dare himself to deliver a song like that: no screaming, even when we think he will shred his cords at any moment. Lighting a red piano on fire for Elton John week—I get it—but y’know, BIG YAWN.
The judges hated Naima’s reggae but I liked it: it didn’t sound bad; it was new; and it helped that I was in the kitchen while she sang it. The fake Jamaican accent she put on for the shout-out though: yeah, that’d get you beaten up in Brixton, girlfriend.
Thia needs to let a little imperfection and risk in: she’s so impossibly perfect each week that all the humanity is bleached out. And she needs to wear pants instead of short skirts. And she needs to ignore the camera.
I think that at this point Paul is just laughing his bony bespangled ass off that he’s still there. He hasn’t a hope in hell of winning, but he’s not bad. It would help if he enunciated the words. The Inky Jukebox loves his Nudie suit and is happy for him to stay as long as he busts it (or one like it) out every week (it cost $4,500).
Lauren, bless her, sang earnestly but for some reason looked terrified. The black sparkly dress has to go, as does the downhome look. Dress her in a suit and pull her hair back.
Scotty could be a black horse here: boy can sing, and his last low note was resonant and delivered like a pro.
The Inky Jukebox is delighted and gratified to see that Casey took our advice and toned it way down this time. (OK, I know, I know: EVERYONE ELSE said the same thing.) One thing I (we?) love about this guy is that he’s very natural on camera; his behind-the-scenes stuff feels very at ease. This is a good sign.
Jacob has pipes. I wonder that he doesn’t use them to chew the stage up with them though. Power is nice, but gently, gently.
Haley’s delivery of Bennie and the Jets was 95% growling and 4% falsetto and 1% hisssssssss. This does not an Elton John song make.
Randy claimed that Elton John is one of the best songwriters ever, but he isn’t: Bernie Taupin is. Thank goodness someone told him he had to rectify that before the end of the show.
Bottom Three: Lauren, Stefano, Thia. Going home? Stefano and Thia.